Panaracer Gravel King 27.5×1.90 (650B×48) Review
I recently reviewed a pair of 650b wheels by Irwin Cycling, which was my first experience on the smaller wheel size. For a tire choice I wanted to go with something that would fair well on both road and dirt, therefore avoiding anything with a knobby center pattern. Having good experience in the past with a Panaracer GravelKing SK 700c x 35mm tire, I decided to try out the “slick” version of the GravelKing in a 27.5×1.90(650B×48) size with black tread and brown sidewalls.
The tires were mounted on Irwin’s AON GX 35 gravel wheels, that feature an internal width of 24mm. The GravelKing is a tubeless compatible tire designed for gravel and dirt, while not compromising too much on stretches of rough or smooth pavement. GravelKings are constructed from Panaracer’s ZSG Natural Compound that the company claims to enhance wear resistance while maintaining an excellent ride quality. An Anti-Flat casing is used for protection against cuts and pinch flats.
At first these tires took a bit getting used to, as here in San Diego the late summer conditions offered plenty of loose dirt over hard. With no sizeable surface knobs I experienced some loss of control on a few washed out descents. With some adjusting to speed and breaking however, this was quickly remedied. Overall the durability and fun-factor stand out most for these tires, with its center diamond pattern offering good traction on multiple surface conditions while maintaining speed on-road. Over the course of 3 months with a few hundred miles of riding, the GravelKing has proven to be incredibly durable as well with little signs of wear.
A key benefit of 650b has certainly been the ability to play with tire pressures not possible in the 700c world. While Panaracer recommends a max inflation of 50PSI, I never took it above 40. In most conditions I found that pressures between 25-28PSI were ideal. On only one occasion I experienced a puncture after coming in direct contact with a sharp concrete edge at speed, which was quickly remedied by the application of GUP.
So are there any downsides to 650b? Certainly there is the added weight of these tires and the noticeably larger spare tube to carry around, but overall the ride quality and experience of 650b on gravel offers real advantages from a suppleness perspective without compromising too much on speed. For the average rider who is looking for a true any-road experience, we definitely recommend giving it a try. And the GravelKing is a solid tire choice that looks good, lasts and performs great. Available in the following sizes with back or brown sidewalls:
If you have tried the GravelKing let us know your thoughts below. Do you have other 650b tire recommendations? Let us know your questions and comments below.
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